Sunday, November 13, 2016

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Day Is Coming

As we approach Advent, today's readings remind us that the day is coming. This day is of course the last day or judgment day.

The first reading from Malachi tells us that this day is coming and will be like a blazing oven. All those who are proud and evil will be disposed of.  There will be neither root nor branch, the reading describes. The reading uses metaphors with imagery of fire burning a tree leaving nothing behind. This of course is a description of hell. God will come to judge all people from every nation (Zephaniah 3:8, Isaiah 3:9, Matthew 25:31-46, Acts 17:31, 2 Peter 3:7). No one will escape this judgement (Isaiah 28:14-16). This day will be the day of justice where the good and the bad will receive their just reward. The good will reap "the sun of justice with its healing rays" while the wicked will burn in the flames.  God is a just God and will rule the earth with justice as we read in the responsorial Psalm.  All of the earth praises the Lord. Each creature, each natural phenomenon praises Him. We join this praise with our lives as we advance in grace. God is coming and we must be prepared.  We must behave in accordance to the faith just like Paul and the disciples set an example to the early Catholic Christians. Living a good example is very important in the faith. We cannot live as hypocrites.

Nothing turns off people from the faith than a hypocritical Catholic who does not walk the talk, so to speak. This is why we must set a good example to others so that they can see the Gospel alive in our lives. Saying that we pray is not as powerful and praying with someone. Reading the Gospel and Works of Mercy is not the same as actually carrying them out in day to day living. We must be our faith. This is the best way to preach the Gospel. Imagine if St. Teresa of Calcutta just sat in a monastery and talked about helping the poor of the poor, would she have become a saint?  Imagine if St. Francis of Assisi sat in the Portiuncula and spoke only about helping lepers while never going out to actually help them, would he have become a saint? We must go out into the world and get our hands dirty, so to speak. The Church is like a field hospital as our pope tells us constantly. Work in important in the Church. Those who do not work, should not eat. If we do not work to become saints and let sin take over, then we should not approach the Lord's table to eat. Moreover, we must work in this world in order to make a living. No one is entitled to live a work free life full of luxury and "freebies." We all must earn a living, including the clergy and religious who earn a salary in their respective ministries.

Lastly, we read in the Gospel, Christ telling the people about the destruction of the temple and the signs that warn of the times ahead.  The temple will be destroyed and there will be famine and other unpleasant and scary things. These things are described as happening in the New Testament, but we must also watch for the signs in our day. With the election of Donald J. Trump, many protesters are gathering on the streets out of paranoia. We are still seeing the divisions and discord that Jesus warned about. Nations are still at war with each other. Earthquakes, famines and plagues are still taking place and we see awesome sights in the sky just like the Super moon that will be visible tonight and on Monday. While these things happen naturally, we must always be on alert. We must ignore those who claim to know the day of the Lord. No one knows the day nor the hour. As Advent approaches, we must call on the Lord to come or Maranatha (Revelation 22:20)! While we wait for His coming, we must be patient and bear with the persecution that is upon us.  We will be hated because of Jesus. Even those close to us will hand us over and betray us. We will secure our lives with our perseverance. We cannot be quitters when the time gets rough.

St. Ambrose tells us, "It was spoken then of the temple made with hands, that it should be overthrown. For there is nothing made with hands which age does not impair, or violence throw down, or fire burn. Yet there is also another temple, that is, the synagogue, whose ancient building falls to pieces as the Church rises. There is also a temple in every one, which falls when faith is lacking, and above all when any one falsely shields himself under the name of Christ, that so he may rebel against his inward inclinations (Quoted in Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 3 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1843), 674.)." We must focus on the temple within us where the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 6:19). God does not care about church buildings or man-made temples. What He cares about is our souls. This is why Christ came and died for, our souls (John 3:16).

St. Cyril of Alexandria reminds us stating, "Some of them showed Christ the mighty works that were in the temple and the beauty of the offerings. They expected that he would admire the spectacle as they did, although he is God and heaven is his throne. He did not allow any regard for these earthly buildings, since they were unimportant. Absolutely nothing compared with the mansions that are above. Dismissing the conversation about them, he turned to what was necessary for their use. Christ forewarned them that however worthy of admiration they might think the temple was, yet at a certain time it would be destroyed from its foundations. The power of the Romans would tear it down and burn Jerusalem with fire, and retribution would be required from Israel for the Lord's murder. They had to suffer these things after the Savior's crucifixion ( "Commentary on Luke, Homily 139," quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 319)." We must care for our souls by living the faith, receiving the Sacraments especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I cannot stress enough how important it is for us to authentically live our Catholic faith. We must not hide our faith. We will be persecuted and mocked. There is no way around this. Some of us may even be martyred for our faith. However, the death of a Christian is not the end. If we die with Christ, we shall also rise with Him (2 Timothy 2:11, Philippians 3:10). Our mortal bodies will come back to life glorified in Christ (Philippians 3:20-21). St. Augustine tells us, "We should have no doubt that our mortal flesh also will rise again at the end of the world.… This is the Christian faith. This is the Catholic faith. This is the apostolic faith. Believe Christ when he says, "Not a hair of your head shall perish." Putting aside all unbelief, consider how valuable you are. How can our Redeemer despise any person when he cannot despise a hair of that person's head? How are we going to doubt that he intends to give eternal life to our soul and body? He took on a soul and body in which to die for us, which he laid down for us when he died and which he took up again that we might not fear death ("Sermon 214.11-12," quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 321)." God is in control, we have nothing to be afraid of. Not one of our hairs will be harmed if we trust Him and live for Him. Let us prepare for the day when Christ returns.  May Jesus be praised!


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